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African Anschluss?

Mon 19 Jul 2010 In: Comment View at Wayback View at NDHA

In a recent Economist, further concern has been expressed about the implications of the spread of militant Pentecostal fundamentalist Christianity in Africa. LGBT solidarity may be having an effect, however. US Christian Right satellite movements are spreading throughout Eastern and Central Africa, fuelled by the rise of Pentecostal fundamentalist Christianity. Although western LGBT communities may be primarily preoccupied with the worrying situation in Uganda, over David Bahati MP's "Anti-Homosexuality Bill,", there are related dangers elsewhere. In Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza is a Pentecostal and presided over the recriminalisation of homosexuality in that tiny wartorn nation. Kale Heywet and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania are also active against decriminalisation of male homosexuality there. And in Nigeria, militant Pentecostal belligerency threatens to exacerbate already fraught Christian/Muslim communal animosities. In Kenya, Bishop Margaret Wanjiru (Jesus is Alive Ministries) appears to be that nation's version of our own beloved Bishop Brian Tamaki and Destiny Church. It seems to be motivated by the same personality cultism, as Bishop Wanjiru now has her own website, where one can purchase DVDs, CDs and other accessories. Unfortunately, she's also quite active in militant anti-abortion activism and denial of Muslim civil rights, which may explain a bomb attack on her church recently. Wanjiru, Ugandan Pentecostals and others may be tapping into a still-vital vein of African spirituality which views the surrounding world as 'spiritually pervaded', notes Professor Paul Gifford at the University of London. However, they can be overly ambitious and sabotage themselves. Much as Tamaki has earned the animosity of pakeha Pentecostals and fundamentalists over his avaricious 'prosperity gospel' and high-flier lifestyle, Uganda's Martin Ssempa has sabotaged his own stake in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill through fratricidal attacks on rival Pentecostals. Similarly, their anti-Muslim sectarianism has cut off possible conservative antigay interfaith support. Unfortunately, poverty, endemic civil war, the absence of comprehensive government welfare and health services, government corruption and authoritarianism, the near-absence of educated middle-class professionals, tabloid media and other afflictions means that these unpleasant sects won't go away soon, fuelled as they are by US Christian Right donations, propaganda, tactics and strategy. However, the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill has apparently stalled as a result of western LGBT solidarity against Bahati's efforts. With maintained pressure against the regime, it may soon vanish back into the emptiness of the US Christian Right psyche from whence it came. Recommended: "Slain by the Spirit" Economist: 03.07.2010 Craig Young - 19th July 2010    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Monday, 19th July 2010 - 1:29pm

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